Cartoccio – Baking in Cartoccio: Advantages and Advice

Cartoccio - Baking in Cartoccio: Advantages and Advice

What is foil cooking?

The ” en papillote ” is a cooking technique that involves wrapping the food in a sheet of paper for food use, after possibly seasoning it with spices , fats and various aromas.

The foil can be subjected to any heat source, which greatly complicates the description of this cooking technique.In general, the husk takes advantage of two modes of heat transfer, called conduction and convection, while the specific means of propagation are air, water and steam .
This technique can be applied to cooking in the oven (which is undoubtedly the most suitable tool), grilled or even grilled or in a pan (NOT non-stick).


How does it work?

How cooking en papillote works can be summarized as follows:

  1. Transfer of heat from the source to the conduction medium: from the electric resistances or from the flame of the oven to the air contained inside it or to the lava stone of the gas grill ; or from the flame of the stove to the solid of the plate or pan. Alternatively, irradiation can take place directly from the embers.
  2. Heat transfer from the conductive medium to the foil (aluminum foil or food paper that wraps the food).
  3. Heat transfer from the pouch (secondary conduction medium) to the food.
  4. Cooking food for:
    1. Heat conduction from the aluminum foil pouch to the food (solid and liquid parts).
    2. Conduction of heat from food liquids (water and fats), and from the steam released as a result, to the solid parts.

Note : some foods can also be wrapped in foil and cooked directly on the dying embers of a charcoal or wood-burning grill; obviously, these are small foods , wrapped in aluminum foil, suitably greased with oil and turned very frequently on the sides of the wrapper.



Pros and cons of cooking en papillote

Foil cooking is generally portrayed as the ideal marriage between the full-bodied taste of oven cooking, with various condiments and sauces, and the sobriety of steam in preserving the nutrients contained in the dishes as much as possible .

Note : today there are variants of the traditional systems which exploit the same concept of the husk but which are subjected to a different primary means of conduction, i.e. water.

We are talking about sous-vide cooking and jar cooking (even at low temperatures), two innovative and cutting-edge methods which, in addition to providing all the advantages of cooking en papillote, allow the foods inside the container to be kept for a considerable period of time. airtight container.

Cooking in foil and fat

Foil cooking can also be done “natural”, i.e. without added condiments, to make it a friend of low-calorie and low-fat (low-fat) diets; especially meat and fish , in fact, once closed in foil they remain in close contact with the fat and cellular juices released by the effect of the heat, without dispersion of flavours.

Furthermore, the addition of other condiments can be replaced – at least in part – with raw fat after cooking.

The choice of foil

The wrapper, the so-called cartoccio, is generally made up of common baking paper, metallic or vegetable (in tropical countries the leaves of some plants are used), or aluminum foil, which guarantees a more hermetic closure and is fireproof.
The choice of casing is a rather important element for the success of cooking en papillote; a certain porosity of the paper, together with the higher cooking temperatures, contributes to the uniform browning of the food, while from an impermeable wrapper, such as aluminum foil, softer dishes emerge, similar to boiled meat.

The creation of small holes in the outer casing helps the cooking fats and those released by the food to escape, making the dish leaner , drier and less tasty.


Nutritional aspects

From a nutritional point of view, en papillote is an excellent cooking technique, provided it is used appropriately; it is in fact a generally low-calorie method, if compared to others such as frying or roasting. At the same time, it maintains and enhances the aromas of the foods, which are particularly attractive even to the little ones. The vegetables cooked in foil, remaining in close contact with the cellular juices, preserve a fair amount of thermolabile vitamins , such as C, B1 and B2.
Note : in contact with particularly acidic substances, aluminum foil could release some unhealthy metallic residue (see below).



Practical rules of cooking en papillote

Foil cooking is ideal for foods that are not too bulky, reduced to slices or fillets ( fish ), while particularly generous cooking times are required for bulkier foods.

As a general rule, for example, fish fillets cooked in foil require 3-4 minutes of cooking at 180-200°C for each centimeter of thickness; at least triple for whole fish, from which the same fillets could be obtained.

Note : for large fish, cooking in foil can be replaced by cooking in a salt crust . This, which uses a mineral barrier as an intermediate casing, can only be practiced in the oven and shows the same strengths and weaknesses as cooking in foil; the only penalty is the dilation of cooking times.

We will now describe the method and the practical rules for obtaining good cooking in foil in the oven .

  • Preheat the oven to 180-200°C or according to the temperature indicated in the recipe.
  • Once prepared, the ingredients are placed in the center of the wrapping, which – as a general rule – must be three times wider and twice as long as the food. If the weight of the food is heavy, it is advisable to place the sheet of paper directly on the tray to be placed in the oven, to avoid breaking the parcel during transfer.
  • Especially when adding other various condiments, it is necessary to slightly fold the edges of the casing, in order to collect the spilled oil without letting it escape; lift the two freer and more spacious edges making them match in the center above the product, then start rolling or folding the margins together from the joining point, continuing up to the two lateral ends which will also be folded on themselves for greater safety.
    If, on the other hand, you do not add condiments, hermetically seal the foil by folding the longer side of the foil over the food, so that the two edges fit together perfectly; at this point, roll them together starting from the joined end.
  • Check well the closure of the sides of the bag; if baking paper is used, the hermetic seal can be guaranteed by the glue effect of the egg white brushed on the edges of the baking paper.
  • Bake in the oven for the time required by the recipe; alternatively, the foil can be cooked on an already hot grill, using double-layer aluminum foil as a wrapper to avoid burning it.



Is using aluminum foil for the foil bad?

When it comes to cooking in foil, this is undoubtedly the most frequently asked question: is the aluminum in aluminum foil bad for your health?
The answer is not simple, since many researches have denied the harmful effects of this metal on human health, even if, to tell the truth, they have considered the impact of the addition of additives and food contamination raw or during cooking . industrial handling of raw materials. The release of aluminum from the foil during cooking could be another matter altogether.
We know that dietary intake of aluminum should be limited to 1mg/kg of body weightper week; beyond this limit it is not excluded that it may create health problems. The average for the adult population is between 0.2-1.5mg/kg weekly; for younger subjects, upper limits ranged between 0.7-2.3mg/kg per week.
It has been defined as dangerous “to eat foods that contain sodium acid phosphate and aluminum, or to live near the extraction mines”; no mention is made regarding cooking in foil, which could release aluminum ions due to the interaction between food acids and the metal of the casing.
When in doubt, the “rule of common sense” prevails: it is advisable to use aluminum foil cooking occasionally, perhaps alternating the metal wrapping with a food paper one, or changing this technique with similar methods such as: salt, jar cooking and cooking in vacuum packed .



Fish in Cartoccio – Amberjack Fillets with Cuttlefish and Shrimps

Alice, your Personal Cooker, explains on MypersonaltrainerTv how to prepare a delicious fish in foil.

For you, he chose amberjack fillets with cuttlefish and prawns on a bed of tomatoes , capers and black olives .



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